Home Decor

What to Look for in a Vintage Cutting Board

June 17, 2015

Flea market season is here. While it’s nearly impossible to make a shopping list—who knows what treasures you’ll uncover!—it’s helpful to go thrifting with a few ideas of things you’d love to find.

Today: Amy Azzarito shares tips for sleuthing out vintage cutting boards at the flea and the some of her favorite styles to look for.

Vintage Cutting boards by Food52

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For serving cheeses, hanging as wall art, and photographing your food on, vintage cutting boards are a real treasure when you can find them. Which style of vintage board to choose, however, is a personal preference; I always go for a dark board with with a great patina. In general, I look for thicker boards (the heftier, the better!) with handles (for hanging and the practical purpose of hauling) and any board held together with metal repair clips—a sign of lastingness that I find that particularly charming. If you're looking to make a vintage board wall display, then you'll want to go after boards with holes for hanging. 

If you do you stumble upon an antique board, you’re going to want to give it a good cleaning before unwrapping the brie. The best way to clean a board is to sprinkle some coarse salt on top, roll up your sleeves, and scour with half a lemon. Let the salt/lemon paste sit on the board for five minutes or so and then scrape away the dirty liquid that remains. Rinse the board, dry thoroughly, and then rub a food-safe oil treatment (like mineral oil or beeswax) into the surface. When it comes time to clean your board again, a simple handwash is all you need. (Never put a cutting board in the dishwasher; the hot water will crack and warp the wood.)

To get you in the collecting mood, here are some beautiful vintage cutting boards I found by searching online and some ideas for finding, using, and displaying similar boards. When you're asking around at the flea market, be sure to inquire about cutting board and “bread boards”—and the same goes for searching online. Happy hunting!


Vintage Cutting Board 1stDibs Vintage Cutting Boards 1stDibs
Left: Swedish Oak Cutting Board (1stDibs); right: French Cutting Boards (1stDibs)

The fantastic thing about this Swedish Oak cutting board is how thick it is—oh, and that patina! In comparison, these late 19th-century French cutting boards have a much more distressed patina, which can be very desirable depending on how rustic of a look you prefer. If you're going to use a highly-distressed board for serving foods, be sure to clean it well and coat with a protective board wax


1stDibs Vintage Cutting Boards
Carl Aubock cutting board (1stDibs)

It’s hard to say which is more awesome: this walnut cutting board with the leather knife holder and hanging strap, or the knife with the wicker-wrapped handle. This beauty was designed in the 1950s by Austrian Carl Aubock, who studied painting at Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts and later was a student of the Bauhaus. If you see something unique like this at a flea market, snatch it up fast—a board doesn't have to be ancient to be quality (and valuable).


One Kings Lane Oversized French Cutting BoardOversized French Cutting Board (One Kings Lane)

The standout of this French cutting board is its distinct shape, but the rich color and clear wood grain shouldn't be overlooked. 



Vintage Cutting Boards 1st Dibs
Set of 6 American Cutting Boards (1stDibs)

These early American (late 19th-, early 20th-century) cutting boards were probably made from pine or beech wood. A collection like this would make a great wall display, or you could simply lean them up against each other to add warmth to a kitchen counter. 


Jayson Home Vintage Cutting Board
Caption: French cutting board (Jayson Home)

This beautiful example of an early 20th-century antique French cutting board has a distinctly grey cast and splits in the wood. It's resolutely lovely, but probably best just for display; consider slipping one behind plates on open shelving, or in a windowed hutch containing dishware.


Vintage Cutting Board Etsy Vintage Cutting Board Etsy
Kay Bojesen Cutting Board (MidModMomStore, via Etsy)

Danish silversmith and designer Kay Bojesen, who's known for creating a wooden monkey that was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the 1950s, went on to be recognized for his classic mid-century designs. The handle on this board of his makes it perfect for serving pre-dinner snacks.


South Indian Cutting Board 1stDibsSouth Indian Cutting boards (1stDibs)

A set of vintage cutting boards made from woods local to South India are a ready-made wall display—just hang them up by threading a loop of twine through the handle hole and slipping that onto a nail. While European vintage cutting boards are enormously popular, it's smart to poke around with vendors offering collections from other places around the world. 


Cutting Board Second Shout Out 

French Bread Butterfly (Second Shout Out)

The metal repair brackets—one of my favorite features on an old board—give this French vintage cutting board that certain je ne sais quoi. If you love the look of very old boards like this one, check for signs of wormwood and deterioration (which can both be beautiful, but less desirable for use in the kitchen) before you buy.


What are your favorite vintage products and where do you hunt for them? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Mark Weinberg (1), 1st Dibs (2, 3, 4, 6, 10), One Kings Lane (5), Jayson Home (7), MidModMomStore/Etsy (8, 9), and Second Shout Out (11)

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Amy Azzarito

Written by: Amy Azzarito

Author of the forthcoming "Domestic Bliss: The History of Luxury at Home in 100 Objects"

1 Comment

Pam July 11, 2018
Every Day we use my father's apple-shaped cutting board. He was a great cook, who died in 1983. I snagged the cutting board and treasure it. I don't know how old it is; he had it at least since the 50s or 60s. I've never sanded or lemon/salt scrubbed it; all I do is swipe it with a damp sponge or dish cloth, and occasionally a bit of vegetable oil. I treasure it because it reminds me of him and his love of cooking..